At Salford University, the Salford Institute for Dementia recently opened a brand-new dementia hub in the heart of the university grounds. The hub offers support and advice to carers and people with dementia, alongside activity sessions and day trips. It provides information on how to live well with dementia, while researchers design dementia-friendly buildings, gardens, urban spaces and transport networks where those with the condition and their carers can live with meaning and purpose.
Once a month they hold ‘Sid’s Café’ (Salford Institute for Dementia) as part of their Good-Life Club, offering light snacks and refreshments. For August’s session, I was invited to present a demo and cook for a group of guests who have been working on plots for a few months, growing their own herbs and vegetables on site outside the hub. So, with the weather being kind to us that day we decided to cook ‘al fresco’ within the hub grounds.
Over the previous weeks the team and visitors had been busy nurturing tomatoes and potatoes, so it gave me the chance to cook with some fresh ingredients. Unfortunately, the potatoes were not quite ready and the tomatoes had disappeared (apparently, they were very tasty!) but I had a choice of fresh lavender, thyme, rosemary, sage and mint. This lead us to talk about the use of herbs and spices for medicinal purposes; such as sage for sore throats, ginger for upset stomachs and lavender to assist with sleeping and also helping bees!
I made a light lunch of sweet potato, coconut and lentil soup served with fresh crusty bread, using thyme from their garden. It gave visitors a chance to try something they normally wouldn’t have eaten, and ask questions about cooking without meat and dairy. One guest mentioned that she now feels more confident to try new dishes and recipes, and thanked me for introducing her to a soup that was different to ones she would normally choose. I shared tips on vegan cooking, offering advice on egg alternatives for baking, discussed what a vegan eats each week, and how to save money buying alternatives to regular purchases.
I created the recipe myself, taking into account that certain vegetables complement each other, and can taste different just by the way they are cooked. I worked with sweet potato, coconut and carrot because they can create a lovely sweet combination that can be changed depending on the herbs and spices added to the dish. I also included lentils for protein, and apple cider vinegar for tang. I always advise people to make soups if they don’t have much energy because they don’t take long to cook and can be very nourishing and cheap to make. The full recipe can be found below.
Good Life Soup